Friday, December 27, 2013

Bandages and Dressings for #HidradenitisSuppuritiva

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As described in my previous blog post Hidradenitis of the Armpits - Boils Under the Armpits a plug of dead skin in the duct of a gland emptying into a hair follicle in areas of opposing skin surfaces like the armpits, under the breasts and in the groin initiates an infectious process as bacteria multiply within the plugged gland creating a skin boil. The obstructed gland or boil ruptures into the deep layers of the skin; adjacent glands become involved; and abscesses form. Subsequently, multiple draining sinuses or holes appear on the skin surface and the whole hair bearing area may become inflamed. We call this process #HidradenitisSuppuritiva (HS).

As I described my first choice of treatment for this process is surgical removal of the involved skin and closure of the resulting wound with a flap of adjacent normal skin. However, this aggressive surgery is not always the best near term option because of insurance, financial, work or personal reasons. For early stages of the disease temporizing the situation with topical treatments is appropriate and can provide significant relief.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Things to Consider Before Having Plastic Surgery

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1. What is my surgeons training background?

Traditionally, doctors from just four medical specialties — plastic surgery, dermatology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat), and ophthalmology — have handled the bulk of cosmetic offerings, including everything from minimally invasive aesthetic treatments like botulinum toxin (sold under the brand name Botox) to more involved procedures like face-lifts. And those specialists spend years honing their chops in residency training programs that teach skills unique to each specialty in addition to basic surgical skills. Now doctors in these and other specialties may take a weekend course as the only preparation for doing your surgery. “Unfortunately, this is an industry where the most creative, assertive, sexiest marketing often drives the business, but it may not be someone with the best experience,” said David B. Sarwer, a professor of psychology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Smoking Adversely Affects Facial Aging

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The link between smoking and premature facial aging was first made in 1971. Surveys of twins attending the annual Twin Days Festival, held in Twinsburg, Ohio between 2007 and 2010 conducted by Case Western Reserve University department of Plastic Surgery have corroborated this. In each pair of twins, either one twin smoked and the other did not, or one twin smoked at least five years longer. Pairs in which neither smoked or the difference in smoking was less than 5 years were excluded.Fifty-seven of the included 79 twin pairs studied were women, and the average age was 48. The twins completed questionnaires regarding their medical and lifestyle histories specifically sunscreen use, alcohol intake, work stress and smoking history. A professional photographer took standardized, close-up photographs of each twin's face. Without knowledge of the twins' smoking history, plastic surgeons then analyzed the twins' facial features in the photos, including grading of wrinkles and age-related facial features to identify "specific components of facial aging" that were affected by smoking.

Smoking Adversely Affects Facial Aging
The sister on the left smoked 17 years longer than the one on the right which accounts for larger jowls, lip wrinkles and lower eyelid bags not present in the sister on the right as well as the deeper frown and laugh lines in the sister on the left.

The conclusion of the study was that the effects of smoking on facial aging are most apparent in the lower two-thirds of the face specifically lower eyelid bags, malar bags, upper eyelid skin excess, the lips, laugh lines and jowls.  The forehead wrinkles, frown lines and crow's feet wrinkles were not statistically different.  Smokers had more sagging of the upper eyelids, as well as more bags of the lower eyelids and under the eyes. Twins who smoked also had higher scores for facial wrinkles, including more pronounced nasolabial folds, wrinkling of the upper and lower lips and sagging jowls. I had once had a patient who smoked only holding the cigarette on the right side of her mouth. She had aging wrinkles of the right upper lip but not of the left upper lip. In her case one side of her face aged more than the other.

The take home message is do not smoke to lessen the need for cosmetic surgery and do not smoke afterward to maintain the results of cosmetic surgery for a longer period of time.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heart - Coronary Artery Stents and Cosmetic Surgery

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Heart (coronary) artery blockage is a local blocking or narrowing in the arteries on the outer surface of the heart by accumulated deposits of plaque, which is mostly bad cholesterol. Every artery in the body is a blood pipeline. These pipelines get blocked with accumulation of bad cholesterol. When a cardiologist suspects blockage or narrowing of any of these heart arteries he/she will perform an angiography (threading a catheter up a thigh artery to the heart to inject a dye that is visible on X-ray) to view the inside of the arteries. When an area of artery narrowing or blockage is identified a catheter with a balloon is inserted along the same path and inflated at the problem area to open it up. This is called angioplasty. Increasingly stents are placed at these angioplasty sites to keep them open in the long term. In some cases multiple stents are sequentially placed in the same artery. If the area cannot be treated in such a fashion open heart surgery is required which involves opening the rib cage and bypassing the blocked area with a vein graft or connecting an artery from inside the rib cage to the downstream side of the blockage. These procedures have helped prolong the life of countless heart disease victims. This blog only addresses patients who have had stents placed. It does not address those who have had open heart surgery.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Blood Clots, Venous Thromboembolism, Pulmonary Embolus and Cosmetic Surgery

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In a previous blog I discussed Bleeding Disorders and Cosmetic Surgery focusing on bleeding tendencies and abnormally low blood clotting. This blog deals with the other side of the coin abnormally high blood clotting. These clots usually form in large veins of the leg or pelvis or in the chambers of diseased hearts.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fat Injections to Reconstruct Breasts or Increase Breast Size

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As described in my previous blog Free Fat Grafting grafts of small pieces of fat removed from one area of the body and placed in another area was first attempted in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1893, German physician Franz Neuber grafted a piece of upper arm fat to a patient’s cheek. Two years later, in 1895, another German physician, Dr. Karl Czerny, performed the first documented breast augmentation when he grafted a fatty tumor from a patient’s lower back to repair a breast defect. With the introduction of liposuction in the 1980s the available donor source for fat injections rapidly increased. Although a minority of plastic surgeons currently inject fat into the breast to enlarge them for cosmetic reasons the tide is changing. In 1987 the American Society of Plastic Surgeons advised against fat injections into the breast due to concerns that it affected breast cancer detection and the survival rate of injected fat was unreliable. That opinion was reversed in 2008 in the face of increasing evidence that cancer detection and cancer rates themselves were not affected by the procedure. Now the flood gates have opened and everyone even non-plastic surgeons want to inject fat into the breasts.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins are visible dilated tortuous veins. The term is usually only applied to those present superficially on the legs but they can occur anywhere including the testicles (varicoceles) and the face. The legs have a deep and superficial system of veins connected by another set of intermediary or perforating veins. The deep and superficial systems run longitudinally and the perforating system runs transversely to connect them. Veins have a lower pressure of blood flow than arteries so forward movement of blood requires massage by the movement of adjacent muscles and valves inside the veins to prevent back flow. The superficial veins become varicose when the perforating or deep veins are damaged allowing back flow or clot closed and/or the valves no longer function normally.
Chronic or large varicose veins can cause discoloration and thickening of the skin, swelling of the ankles and feet, actual skin breakdown with the formation of ulcers, blow out of the dilated veins with sudden high pressure bleeding, pain and aching muscles especially with prolonged standing and easily damaged skin. My father spent long periods of time standing without movement at his job and developed large varicose veins in his lower legs that ached and precluded him from working that way when he was older. This type of stationary standing work or prolonged sitting work (airplane pilots) are risk factors for developing varicose veins.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lip Lift - Corners of Mouth Lift Surgery for Drooping Corners of Mouth

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The relative positions and shape of the lips and corners of the mouth signify ones age or youthfulness and emotional status (happy, sad, angry). As one ages the upper lip thins, sags and wrinkles. Skin folds or marionette lines appear extending downward from the corners of the mouth and those corners slant downward. The earliest approaches to this area were the surgical facelift and lip lift surgery that removed or repositioned tissue around the mouth specifically removing skin in the area where the lip joins the lip skin (vermilion advancement) or removing skin just beneath the bottom of the nose. The results of doing so however were variable and the scars can be disfiguring. Later came chemical peels and lasers to remove aging wrinkles of the lips. In the 1980s doctors began injecting botox into the muscle that pulls the corner of the mouth downward (the yellow circle in the video below). This gave subtle but temporary results as did injectable fillers in the corners of the mouth. All of the direct surgery to the corners of the mouth that I have seen in the US have had disastrous results with bad scars and/or bizarre appearances with movement.

 Now, from the country that has the most per capita plastic surgery, South Korea, comes the corners of mouth lift. They call it "Smile Lipt" surgery.
In the video it is apparent that when the surgery gives a subtle result it does look good but when done more aggressively makes the patient look like the Joker character from Batman or the main character from Vendetta. Overall the results are better than have been the norm in the US because they appear to focus on the muscles in the corner of the mouth instead of the skin and fat tissue at the corner of the mouth. These skin and fat removal procedures include the “Valentine anguloplasty” after the heart shape of the removed skin at the lip’s edge. That is not to say that muscle surgery alone is better because removal of muscle in this area can create indents.

Patterns of skin removal for lifting drooping corners of the mouth in the West including the valentine anguloplasty and the lentiform excisions. The far right excision pattern includes removal of the marionette line itself and should be reserved for very light skinned patients that have deep marionette lines.

This newly popular surgery has been receiving increasing news coverage.

Face and Neck Lift 1
Face and Neck Lift 2

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Xanthelasma, Xanthomas, Eyelid Cholesterol Deposits

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Xanthomas are deposits of fat filled foam or xanthoma cells in the superficial dermal layer of the skin often surrounded by scarring and inflammation. The condition of having them is called xanthelasma. About half of the patients with xanthelasma have a metabolic disorder with increased fat in the blood (Hyperlipoproteinemia type IIa - high blood cholesterol and LDL levels). The fat is transported in a protein capsule so the complex is called a lipoprotein. The treatment for this type of hyperlipoproteinemia is bile acid sequestrants, statins and niacin.

The treatment of xanthomas has been surgical removal of the material with or without overlying skin, laser treatments and chemical peels. The treatment decision tree depends on the size and number of xanthomas and whether they are hard or soft. Hard ones can be uncapped to remove the xanthoma and then the cap of skin is sutured back down. Smaller xanthomas closer to the lower eyelid lashes or upper eyelid creases can be removed with the skin at blepharoplasty. Larger xanthomas needed to be removed in a staged piecemeal fashion. With a 2 or more month interval between surgical excisions.

All xanthelasma patients should have their blood cholesterol and LDL levels checked and treated as needed to prevent recurrence of the xanthomas.

Aaron Stone MD - twitter
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Change the Lines on Your Palms and Change Your Future

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What came first the chicken or the egg and does life's trials and tribulations make the lines or your palms or do the lines predestine your fate? Now in Japan you can change your future by lengthening the life line on your palm or adding money-luck or marriage lines to your palm. Men usually wish to change their business related success lines, such as the fate line(運命線), the money-luck line (金運線) to make profits, and the financial line (財務線) to save what money you make. These three lines, when they come together just right, create what is called the emperor’s line. Women usually request marriage or romance lines on their palms.
An example of the emperor's line.

The procedure takes about 15 minutes and costs about $1000. The surgery is performed with an electric scalpel because lasers and scalpels make inferior lines. Between January 2011 and May 2013, 37 palm plastic surgeries were performed at the Shonan Beauty Clinic in Tokyo, Japan. The clinic briefly advertised the service, but couldn’t keep up with the demand so now it relies solely on word of mouth. Do palm readers ignore man made fate lines?

Aaron Stone MD - twitter
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teenage Rhinoplasty - Teen Rhinoplasty

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Cosmetic surgery on teens or children is becoming more popular (in 2009 203,000 teens and in 2012 236,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 altered their physical appearance) but can be controversial. While adults have appearance altering surgery to stand out or look younger, teens do so to fit in and be more like their average peer.  Not all teens with psychosocial anxiety about a body part have psychological issues, and they should not be dismissed by adults as being too immature to understand their own emotions or automatically be assumed to have primarily psychological problems.

In Australia such surgery is legally restricted. In 2009, breast and nose surgery, liposuction, and Botox on children were banned in Queensland, Australia. Doctors who perform such procedures without medical reason can face up to 2 years in prison. In New South Wales, Australia patients under 18 years of age who are considering cosmetic surgery have undergo a 3-month cooling-off period, followed by consultation with an internist and clinical psychologist before they can have surgery. There are no such regulations in the United States.

Rhinoplasty, nose reshaping surgery, is the most common cosmetic surgery performed on American teens. It is usually performed as same day surgery under general anesthesia. According to the 2010 American Society of Plastic Surgeons report, rhinoplasty made up 45% of all teen plastic surgery procedures. This has been consistent with 44% of teen cosmetic surgeries being rhinoplasty in 2012. Over 30,000 teens a year get nose jobs in the US. The reasons for having the surgery and the specifics of surgery can be much the same as they are for adults:
  • Removing a hump on the nose
  • Straightening the bridge
  • Reshaping the nose's tip
  • Increasing or decreasing the size of the nostrils
  • Correcting the nose after an injury
  • Opening breathing passages
  • Making the nose bigger or smaller
But there are additional issues the surgeon has to take into account including:
  • is the teenager mature enough and physically old enough to undergo surgery, follow instructions after surgery and wait for complete recovery before judging the result
  • are the teenagers motivations for surgery appropriate and are their expectations reasonable
  • are the parents supportive and on board

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daily Sunscreen Use Slows The Aging Process

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It has been common knowledge for a number of years that regular sunscreen application prevents skin cancer and the FDA changed the allowed labeling on the counters so they can state this. A study published earlier this month in Annals of Internal Medicine now shows it also slows the aging process.

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical in Australia looked at a group of 900 young and middle-aged, mostly fair skinned men and women under age 55 (to factor out the contribution of genetic aging) that were randomly divided into 2 groups. The first group applied SPF15+ sunscreen to their faces, necks, hands and arms daily. The second group used sunscreen either rarely, or not at all, discretionary sunscreen group. Silicone impressions were taken from the backs of all participants’ hands, at the beginning and then again at the end of the study, 4 1/2 years after it began. Roughly half of the participants worked primarily outdoors, while about four in 10 were regular smokers. The daily sunscreen group showed no detectable increase in skin aging during the course of the study, according to microtopography measures. The visual appearance of aging skin wrinkles from beginning to the end of the study was 24% less in the daily sunscreen group than in the discretionary sunscreen group.

Each group was divided in half again to receive a 30mg beta-carotene supplement or a placebo on a daily basis. The supplement did not affect skin aging in this study. The take home message is that daily sunscreen application can prevent skin cancer, keep you younger looking longer and you are never too young to start applying it. Furthermore, daily sunscreen application does more for you than taking some daily supplements that are believed to be good for your skin.

Suntanning, Tanning, Sunscreens
The Dangers of Sun Exposure

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Brachioplasty - Upper Arm Lift

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Upper arm fat and skin removal to reduce hanging upper arm skin in obese women was first described in 1930. Cosmetic brachioplasty or upper arm lifts were first described by Argentinian surgeons in 1954 and subsequently became a well established procedure. However, due to the scarring, fluid collections under the skin, nerve damage and wound problems associated with the surgery it was not very popular. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons statistics as recently as the year 2000 more than 300 women got upper arm lift procedures in the US. Last year, 2012, the number increased to more than 15,000. 98% of these patients were women, 42% had undergone previous weight loss surgery, 63% were aged 40 to 54 and 33% were over age 55. The total spent on brachioplasties in 2012 was $61 million. What accounts for this 5 fold increase in the number of procedures over 12 years? Some of this is due to the increase in weight loss surgery. Over 200,000 Americans a year undergo some kind of weight-loss surgery, such as gastric bypass.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Malar Bags

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There are 3 separate entities lower eyelid bags, festoons and malar bags.

Lower eyelid bags refers to protruding fat or redundant muscle in the lower eyelid itself above the level of the bone rim under the eye. Tear trough exaggerated by protruding eyelid fat
Lower Eyelid Bags

Festoons refers to redundant folds of skin with or without muscle in the lower eyelid.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breast Reconstruction with Aeroform Tissue Expander

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It seems like all the latest breast reconstruction techniques like Neopec come from Australia. Now the Australians have come up with a rapid way to expand chest skin after breast cancer mastectomy to allow placement of a breast implant and thereby reconstruct the breast (see my blog Reconstruction After Breast Cancer Surgery). Usually a saline balloon or expander is surgically placed and the surgeon then progressively fills it with salt water that is injected on a weekly basis to stretch the skin. This can take up to 6 months. Now they have devised an expander that contains a cylinder of compressed carbon dioxide gas. The patient controls the release of the gas into the expander with a handheld remote control and slowly expands on a daily basis.

Preliminary data reveal that using the Aeroform Tissue Expander the expansion can be completed in 17 days instead of 6 months. Enrollment in FDA clinical trials have begun in the US and the manufacturer is predicting a 2014 FDA clearance for general use.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Weight Loss After Tummy Tuck - Abdominoplasty

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Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30kg/m2 or greater. By this definition a third of men and a third of women in the US are obese. The prevalence of obesity in this country has doubled since 1980. This is a a major health concern because obestiy increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including but not limited to sleep apnea, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoarthritis, dyslipidemia, certain types of cancers, gallbladder disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease. The associated health costs are quite high and have been estimated to be in the range of $75 billion per year. With more severity obesity of body mass indexes of 40kg/m2 or more the condition is considered morbid and weight loss surgery is usually recommended if dieting fails. Weight loss surgery has been proven to reduce the incidence and severity of medical conditions associated with morbid obesity.  The American National Institute of Health guidelines state that bariatric weight loss surgery should be offered to patients with a BMI of 35–40 kg/m2 who have obesity related conditions such as diabetes mellitus or obstructive sleep apnea, or in those with a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or greater regardless of weight related co-morbidity conditions.

A medical journal article just published revealed on retrospective review that patients maintained weight losses greater than the amount of tissue removed at abdominoplasty/tummy tuck more than a year after the surgery. This amount of maintained weight loss was greater in people who were heavier prior to surgery (24.5kg/m2 or more) and was proportional to the amount of tissue removed at surgery for 4.5 or more pounds of tissue removal. When asked why the weight was lost and the loss maintained these patients responded that they felt full after and between meals so they ate less. In my experience patients lose additional weight because they like and want to maintain their results. That involves lifestyle changes including exercise and eating a healthier diet. Abdominoplasty however should not be performed primarily to lose weight because the complication rates are quite high for patients with BMI over 40kg/m2 and the results are less than optimal with BMI of 35 to 40kg/m2. Nearly every patient I have ever seen who underwent abdominoplasty when morbidly obese (by surgeons other than myself) had complications including disruption of suture lines requiring months to heal. The best results and fewest complications are seen in patients who have stable weights, are not morbidly obese and have good quality skin without stretchmarks.

A Swiss study published in Oct 2012 showed that patients who have abdominoplasty to remove excess skin resulting from weight loss surgery are more likely to keep the weight off after the procedures. These patients regain about a pound a year vs. a 4 pound annual gain for patients who have weight loss surgery without body contouring surgery to remove excess skin. The contouring surgery produces a second wave of elation that helps patients stay on track to lose more weight. The timing is usually 12 to 18 months after the weight loss surgery as the complication rate at that time becomes the same as for those who have never had weight loss surgery.

There is clearly a benefit to abdominoplasty or tummy tuck that goes beyond the initial look achieved by removing excess skin and tightening abdominal muscles. The procedure has a long lasting effect which is different from a facelift whose affect diminishes with time due to the unstoppable aging process.

The obvious weight loss in this patient after abdominoplasty surgery should be maintained.

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